Various and perfunctory images of campus from the 12th of August, 2011. Pictured: Fountain near Morris Library

Board of Trustees: Greater Transparency and Accountability


The University of Delaware’s Board of Trustees has become increasingly engaged in shaping decision making on vital academic issues at our university.  During the recently concluded contract negotiations with the AAUP, which lasted more than a year, it became clear to the AAUP Bargaining Team that the level of involvement of some members of the Board of Trustees in formulating the University’s proposals and actions of the University’s Bargaining Team was unprecedented.  Moreover, last year the Board of Trustees changed Article 3 of its own Bylaws to weaken substantially the role of the University Faculty Senate and heighten the powers of the President and Provost in academic policy-making, despite grave reservations expressed by an overwhelming majority of University Faculty Senators.  Furthermore, at its semi-annual meeting in December 2016, with hardly any advance notice and absolutely no public discussion, the Board of Trustees revised Article 2 of its own Bylaws to consolidate the powers exercised by the Chair of the Board and his own appointees to the Board’s Executive Committee.

The AAUP Executive Council recognizes and fully respects the fiduciary responsibilities of the Board of Trustees and the vital role it plays in the life of the University and the State of Delaware.  However, the AAUP leadership is concerned about the Board’s increasing activism in academic issues and its concentration of power in the hands of just a few trustees and administrators.  This is especially the case because compared to the governing bodies of almost all other flagship state universities in the USA, such as Rutgers, Penn State, and the University of Maryland, the University of Delaware’s Board of Trustees has very limited transparency, with no opportunity for public observation of the discussions and decisions in the secret meetings of its committees, and no opportunity for public comment at its semi-annual meetings.

Having discussed these issues and deliberated about them, the AAUP Executive Council unanimously approved the following motion at its meeting on Wednesday, May 3, 2017:

Consistent with long-standing principles of the proper role of faculty members in the shared governance of American universities, the Executive Council of the University of Delaware chapter of the American Association of University Professors endorses and supports efforts to increase the transparency and public accountability of the operations of the university’s Board of Trustees and the administration.

In future communications, the AAUP Executive Council will elaborate more specifically on the issues presented here and suggest ways forward to realize the spirit of this motion.

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